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DOUBLE BLIND a film by SOPHIE CALLE & GREG SHEPHARD. 1992. USA. 76 min. Driving across the country in a temperamental Cadillac, two lovers grow apart.

This film screened exclusively for a week and is currently not available online.

For her first video project, French artist Sophie Calle collaborated with her then-partner Greg Shephard to film their turbulent road-trip across the United States using a pair of camcorders. Strung together from their separate and often clashing recollections from the trip, the film calls into question the relationship between fiction and reality by embracing the couple’s disparate accounts of this shared moment in their lives. We are thrilled to present this feat of personal filmmaking in collaboration with the LA-based independent and revival film series Mezzanine.

 

Taking a cue from Chris Marker’s La Jetée (1962)—which receives a small dedication in the credits—Double Blind (No Sex Last Night) mostly consists of still images. Calle and Shephard both thought “the movie was finished” from the start due to their desperate temperaments, but soon realized that if they “froze the images, [they] were saved.” The result lends the images of the American iconography they encountered on the road—small-town diners, mechanic shops, roadside motels—with a postcard quality that matches the epistolary nature of their correspondence throughout the film, wherein each strand of dialogue is imbued with a sense of melancholy toward the events on display.

 

 

“We hadn’t been living together for more than a year, but our relationship had worsened to such an extent that we had stopped talking to one another altogether. I dreamed of marrying him. He dreamed of making movies. To get him to travel across America with me, I suggested that we make a film during the trip. He agreed. Our absence of communication gave us the idea of equipping ourselves with separate cameras, making them the sole confidantes of our respective frustrations and secretly telling them all the things we were unable to say to each other.” SOPHIE CALLE

 

Double Blind matches the flourishes and frustrations that accompany a coast-to-coast road trip—beautiful vistas, sudden car breakdowns, and unexpected detours—with the hiccups its main couple experiences; most notably, Calle’s continual refrain, “No sex last night,” becomes a sort-of running joke that also harbors profound heartbreak. Marriage has never looked as ironic as it does in the film’s climactic drive-thru wedding in Las Vegas. Yet, the project is the product of sincerity, as heard in Calle and Shephard’s brutally honest remarks about one another, as well as Calle’s own intention of completing the trip as a way to symbolically bury her friend Hervé Guibert, the beloved French writer who passed away a week before she set off to California. Both a collection of doleful confessions and sharp comments about the nature of a relationship, Double Blind is a great reminder that love is more than a four-letter word.

 

Born in Paris in 1953, Sophie Calle is a world renowned writer, photographer, and filmmaker. Having never attended art school, she often refutes the title “artist” and prefers to call her projects “private games.” These games began in the late 1970s, when she decided to follow strangers around Paris in order to reacquaint herself with the city after seven years of traveling abroad. Her fascination with the lives of others influenced much of her earlier work, such as Suite Vénitienne (1980), in which she followed a Parisian man around Venice for 13 days and compiled her findings into a book. Her continued investigation into themes of intimacy and identity have made her a leading figure in the contemporary art world. More recently, her work was the recent subject of a retrospective at the Musée Picasso in Paris.

 

Text written by Nicolas Pedrero-Setzer. Courtesy of Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI), New York. Special thanks to Micah Gottlieb.